Summer is the season for picnics, and Chicago is full of spots just asking for a blanket and a basket of sandwiches. Before you grab your cooler and head for the nearest park, though, make sure you’re an expert on making outdoor meals enjoyable.
Bring all of the materials you could possibly need.
You don’t want to break out the pasta salad and then realize you forgot forks. According to the ehow.com article “How to Plan a Picnic,” you’ll want to pack utensils, paper cups and plates, napkins, insect repellant and sunscreen, among other things. Take a look at the full check list for more.
Make some delicious food
It wouldn’t be a picnic without the sandwiches, salads, or whatever you decide to pack in your basket. Tasteofhome.com suggests whipping up some summer veggie subs or picnic chicken. Find more recipes here.
You don’t want food poisoning to ruin your outing. The U.S. Food and Drug Administration recommends that picnickers store food that needs to be kept cold in a cooler with ice, cook meat thoroughly (using a food thermometer), and not leave leftovers out for more than two hours (or one, if it’s above 90 degrees Fahrenheit). Read all of the FDA recommendations here.
Pick the perfect location
Picnickers in Chicago have lots of places to choose from. For a comprehensive list and reviews, visit yelp.com. Here are a few fun spots from the list:
1. Millennium Park
201 E. Randolph St.
You’ll find fountains, flowers and plenty of art at this popular downtown park. The sights include British artist Anish Kapoor’s sculpture “Cloud Gate,” better known locally as “the bean.” Take a look at it and you’ll see why!
2. Lincoln Park Alfred Caldwell Lily Pool
Fullerton Parkway and Cannon Drive
If you’re looking for somewhere less crowded and more tranquil than Millennium Park, take your picnic here. You can have your lunch surrounded by woodland wildflowers, prairie grasses, dragonflies and turtles.
3. Oz Park
2021 N. Burling St.
Come here if you want to take your picnic over the rainbow. This park is named after Lyman Frank Baum, the author of “The Wonderful Wizard of Oz.” You’ll find statues of the Tin Man, Scarecrow, Cowardly Lion, and Dorothy and Toto watching over the swings and flower garden.
Now that you have your materials, your food, safety knowledge and a location, it’s time for a picnic!
As Chicago inches closer to a bill that would making cooking on trucks legal, the line of food trucks hitting the road keeps getting longer. And now, you might be able to find them in a parking lot near you.
Twice a week, the mobile meal community gathers near welcoming businesses with hungry employees. On Tuesdays from 4 p.m. to 9 p.m., a handful of food trucks park on the northwest corner of Halsted Street and North Avenue. On Thursdays, the trucks convene from 6 p.m. to 9 p.m. in the parking lot of Ethyl’s Beer & Wine Dive, 324 S. Racine Ave.
Food Truck Thursdays on PhotoPeach
Follow the Twitter, Follow the Truck
The surge of food trucks in Chicago couldn’t have happened without the advent of social media. Follow a food truck on Twitter to find out where to score your lunch on wheels.
Food truck aggregator:
Bun Pow Buns
The Slide Ride
Tipping Da Cow
Chicago is a foodie paradise if you know where to look. Luckily, there are tour guides for that!
1. Taste of Chinatown:
Who: Chicago Food Planet
When: Mondays, April through November, 11 a.m.
Why: To try Chinese food delicacies from the Canton, Mandarin and Szechuan regions.
How much: $60 adult | $35 adolescent & child. All food tastings are included in the ticket price.
2. Fork and the Road:
Who: Fork and the Road
What: If you’re a cyclist, foodie or just want to see the city, this tour is for you. The shortest route is 13 miles and the longest tour is 22 miles, but each has three or four stops. Everyone can find a tour to fit their taste buds: the Deli-cious, Ice-cycle, Latin Meat Lovers, Mediterranean Cruise, Tour of Asia or ‘Wich Way.
When: Weekends through Sept. 26
Why: To work off all the delicious food you’re eating.
How much: Tours range in price from $50 to $60 a person.
3. Pizza Tour
What: Sample pizza from four of Chicago’s greatest pizza venues and decide which to pledge your allegiance to. The tour visits two deep dish and two thin crust restaurants including Gino’s East, Giordano’s, La Madia, Pizzeria via Stato and State Street Pizza.
When: Every weekend
Why: Because everyone loves pizza.
How much: The tour is $48 for adults, $32 for college students and $24 for children 8-18 years old. Children 7 years or younger are free with the purchase of an adult ticket.
4. Bucktown and Wicker Park Food Tour
Who: Chicago Food Planet
What: Discover the unique artists’ colony that has slowly evolved into a hidden foodie paradise as you enjoy delectable food and drink samples from six authentic mom-and-pop restaurants and ethnic eateries in the Bucktown and Wicker Park neighborhoods including George’s Hot Dogs, Hot Chocolate, Goddess & Grocer, Sultan’s Market, Piece and iCream.
When: Tuesday through Saturday, April through November starting at 11:30 am.
Why: To support “mom and pop” specialty restaurants and one-of-a-kind local cafés.
How much: Ticket price of $45. All food tastings, enough for lunch included.
5. Near North Food Tour
Who: Chicago Food Planet
What: The Near North Food Tour visits seven of Chicagoan’s favorite eateries in the tasty Gold Coast, Old Town and Lincoln Park neighborhoods, including Bacino’s Pizzeria, The Spice House, Delightful Pastries, Ashkenaz Deli, Old Town Oil, Tea Gschwendner and The Fudge Pot.
When: Seven days a week, March through November starting at 11:30 a.m.
Why: To see architectural gems, beautiful gardens, historic mansions, backdoor venues, hidden parks and of course, to eat.
How much: $45 adult | $30 adolescent | $15 child. Tasting included.
6. Coffee & Pastry Tour
Who: Chicago Savvy Tours
What: Chicago Savvy Tours offers an eye opening, sweet fest with our Coffee & Pastry Tour of Andersonville and Little Saigon including three coffee shops and three sweet venues for a delectable balance of sugar and caffeine. Also includes a visit to the Andersonville Galleria for shopping.
When: Saturdays and Sundays at 9:30 a.m.
Why: Because you’ll stop at Anne Sather‘s Swedish restaurant, where you’ll taste the best cinnamon roll ever.
How much: $27
7. Chocolate Tour
What: Enjoy a guided walking and tasting tour to select chocolate shops, bakeries, and cafes, including secret chocolate treasures and famous favorites.
When: At least one tour a day. Times vary.
Why: Because you’ll learn about the history of chocolate, while eating it.
How much: The tour is $40 per person.
The Chicago City Council approved a trial program that allows downtown rooftop bars and outdoor gardens to stay open one hour later. The measure, recommended by the Illinois Restaurant Association, the Illinois Hotel & Lodging Association, and the Chicagoland Chamber of Commerce, allows venues to stay open until midnight seven days a week.
According to Alderman Brendan Reilly, the extra hour applies to approximately 70 bars within the 42nd ward, which basically encompasses the Loop, River North and the Gold Coast. To celebrate an extra hour of alfresco drinking fun, the Chicago Loopster team picked out six stellar outdoor options.
Enough reading. Check out the slideshow and meet us on the rooftop for a drink!
With a name like Chicago, this city was fated to be known for food. Although the origins of the city’s name are hotly debated, a trip to the Chicago History Museum will tell you Chicago comes from the American Indian word, Chicagaoua, which refers to a weed, similar to wild garlic or onion, that grew around Lake Michigan.
Not to mention, the locals help the city live up to its name. With their culinary tastes and expertise that span the globe, Chicagoans’ powerful influence on the city’s palate has shaped an eclectic history of eats. If you want to learn more about food history and the city’s different cuisines, queue up the PBS documentary The Foods of Chicago: A Delicious History.
In the meantime, salivate with the Chicago Loopster over a chronicle of cuisine in the city.
Where are Chicagoans enjoying icy treats this summer? Here’s a map of popular parlors around town.
You’ll find Italian gelato marked in green; custard in blue; and frozen yogurt in pink. Everything else is just plain, old ice cream. It’s National Ice Cream Month so have a lick–I mean, look!
Since most fireworks are illegal in Illinois, many locals flock to stores in Indiana and Wisconsin in the weeks leading up to the July 4 weekend. Fireworks laws are more relaxed in those states, so there is no shortage of stores selling fireworks legally. Cross into Indiana, for example, and most of the billboards you’ll see along highways point you to the nearest fireworks store.
Explore this interactive map to find some popular fireworks stores near Chicago.
Remember that most fireworks are illegal in Illinois and specific laws vary from town to town. If you’re interested in shooting fireworks, either privately or as a professional display, be aware of Illinois’ current fireworks regulations.
The Office of the State Fire Marshal and the National Fire Protection Association recommend that people attend a professional fireworks display on July 4 to ensure a safe holiday. For more information visit: http://www2.illinois.gov/KeepCool/Pages/fire_safety.aspx
What’s more all-American than eating and drinking outdoors with thousands of strangers in Grant Park? The 26th Taste of Chicago comes to a close Sunday, July 3. Are you still wary of trading paper tickets for food? Can’t figure out which vendors are worth the wait? At the Loopster we’ve done the work for you. Here’s a quick guide to the food-fest from the folks most qualified to do so – professional eaters.
A dozen new vendors join the mix of stalwarts serving up classics like Chicago-style hot dogs and deep-dish pizza. The new batch of restaurants highlights the diversity of Chicago’s food scene. From Chinese to Caribbean you can travel the globe without ever leaving Grant Park.
With more than 50 vendors each serving multiple dishes it is a nearly impossible feat to eat everything on offer. The team at Time Out Chicago sampled 40 tasting portions and has the photos to prove it.
The food professionals from the Chicago Tribune dish out their can’t miss booths at the taste. Sentimental favorites are listed alongside vendors new to the Taste this year. Pressed for time? Here is a short-list of must-have eats.
If you decide to skip the Taste of Chicago, there are plenty of other Independence Day weekend dining deals. Fourth of July weekend dining and drinking deals